Astronomy night: Gazing into space

NUST Science Society brings together faculty and students for the telescopic views of the solar system.

Express January 10, 2011

The telescopes zoomed in gradually, with Jupiter’s image getting bigger with every passing moment. The two automated telescopes had been positioned on the largest planet in the solar system and its four moons, for everyone to come and have a look. Students and faculty members queued up at the two telescopes to gaze at the marvels of the universe.

This is how the Nust Science Society kicked off its new year, said a press release issued by National University of Science and Technology (Nust) on Sunday.

“Astronomy Night” was organised to have a closer look at the stars, planets and other heavenly bodies through the eye of a telescope.

The event took place at the School of Chemical and Materials Engineering located at Nust campus, in sector H-12, on Friday. Despite weather reports predicting clear skies on the eve of the scheduled event, a cloud cover proved to be a constant hindrance to the budding astronomers.

Participants were informed about the workings of space shuttles. These included the forces acting on the space shuttle during lift-off, its components and parts, the trajectory it takes as it is launched into the space and flight simulation and calculations.

In coordination with Pakistan’s Astronomers Society, the society set up the two telescopes in the lawn. While the telescopes were being set up, the students were told about the “art of observing stars” by various experts
of the field.

Moreover, Astro-imaging cameras on telescopes projected the view on multimedia screens, showing “earth-like” bodies from outer space. These special cameras also estimated the distances of the planets they were showing.

Dr Sarwar Naqvi, former HOD of Aeronautics and Astronautics, at the Institute of Space and Technology Islamabad, was the guest speaker for the session. Naqvi shared tales from his 32 years of experience at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
with the participants.

The ‘Astronomy night’ was arranged keeping in view the agenda of the Nust Science Society, which is the promotion of all fields of science through an interactive platform.

The fact that the event catered to space sciences, which is one of the “neglected and underdeveloped sectors”, made it even more special. However, resources are now gradually being provided and institutes being set up, as interest in this field increases.

“It is a small effort on our part to cater to this interest and we hope that it will not only be enlightening but also enjoyable and interactive,” said Dr Mohammad Mujahid, the society advisor.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2011.

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